Polish Radio Science Picnic, 2008

The Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archeology of the University of Warsaw was once again among the participants of the 12th edition of the Science Picnic organized in Warsaw by the Polish Radio and the Copernicus Science Center. The leitmotif this year was the “language of science”.
Our approach avoided the standard for we decided to present the language of ancient teaching, or to be more precise, the language of teaching crafts in antiquity, based on archaeological findings as well as historical sources, and not the least, on the PCMA’s most recent excavations. It was a splendid opportunity to present to a wider public an overview of the Centre’s activities in several countries of Africa and the Near East.
There was an archaeological quiz that both the young and the not so young could take. Answers could be found by visiting our stand, watching the presentations and listening to short lectures. The prize was our “Golden Book”, a summary of the Centre’s achievements at a certain point in its history (the Centre exists since 1959, but the Polish archaeological presence in Egypt dates back to the late 1930s). Children ― and adults ― were encouraged to make their own cylindrical seal and to draw human figures following the Ancient Egyptian canon of art.
Judging by the crowds visiting our stand, the presentation was a huge success and we owe it to the generous efforts of our colleagues: Jaga Iwaszczuk, Maciek Makowski, Grzegorz Ochała, Joanna Rądkowska ― doctoral candidates in the Research Center for Mediterranean Archaeology of the Polish Academy of Sciences; Marta Mierzejewska and Monika Więch ― students in the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw; Ula Wicenciak ― documentation grant holder from the PCMA; and Adam Jegliński, Robert Mahler, Marta Momot, Agnieszka Pieńkowska, Zuza Wygnańska ― all from the PCMA. Posters were prepared by Łukasz Rutkowski (PCMA); photographs were taken by Joanna Rądkowska (ZAŚ PAN). Folks, thanks for everything!The PCMA „trench” at the picnic ― everyone in action: Marta Momot and Marta Mierzejewska explain how to make an absolutely authentic Mesopotamian seal and Ula Wicenciak lectures on the canons in Ancient Egyptian art.Visitors were first introduced to the PCMA excavations in Africa and the Ancient Near East ― Grzegorz Ochała was their guide on this part of the journey.Having listened to the theory, visitors could try their hand at drawing in the Ancient Egyptian way. In front of the tent Grzegorz Ochała prompted quiz-takers on where the PCMA holds excavations in the Ancient Near East (it was one of the questions on the quiz). Independent seekers of knowledge had the opportunity to look through the Centre’s most recent publications.This poster prepared by Łukasz Rutkowski presented an easy guide to cylindrical seals ― who made them, where and for what purpose. Many passers-by were thus encouraged to visit our tent and make their own seals.The cylindrical seal workshop. Parents matched the zeal of their kids in making their own, absolutely unique seals.There was no end to questions about our excavations ― experts Maciek Makowski, Marta Mierzejewska and Zuza Wygnańska field a flurry of queries on the subject. This in the benevolent presence of the Paphian Aphrodite (in June the University of Warsaw Gallery at the Kazimierzowski Palace hosted an exhibition In the Town of Aphrodite, presenting the results of 40 years of excavations by a Polish Mission in Paphos on Cyprus).All day long guests had the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity about excavations carried out by the Centre. Here, Jaga Iwaszczuk and Robert Mahler take a moment off, waiting for the next curious visitors.Picnic visitors tried their hand in the drawing competition under Ula Wicenciak’s watchful eye. Ula made sure that their work followed the ancient canon…The youngest visitors hard at work…No cheating on the quiz!…Making a seal is a laborious task that demands full concentration … For the organizers it’s a moment to relax, all under the friendly eye of students of the ancient Academy in Alexandria (recently discovered by the PCMA expedition working on Kom el-Dikka). Not too late, even after almost a millennium!